In 2001 our parents finally divorced. It was a traumatic time. I don’t remember much except that for 5 months I lived next to our father. And heard every single vile thing he could think of about my mother. (Never mind that he was the cause.) During this time my brother Gregg and his girlfriend had a big bouncy baby boy! They decided to go back to Ohio…taking our father with them. Somehow (again details are still fuzzy, this was not a good time period for me) my father ended up in Idaho living with George, Grace and Tiger Girl. The strain on their family was unimaginable. But George was determined that someone needed to take care of our father…otherwise he’d be homeless.
Then the day my mother told me she had to fill out paperwork for financial aid. For who I asked? George. He’s going to get his degree. I was excited. Wow! He was really going to do it. George and his family gave up their house, moved north and school began. (Our father moved in with his sister) I knew it was tough on both George and Grace. Sissy surprised them. Now there were two little girls to care for. George pressed on. But one day it was too much. The strain on Grace was too much. To help his family George withdrew from the college and they moved back to Ohio.
Now all my siblings were in Ohio. The men worked together as tile layers. During this time Monster Boy was born and Auntie’s heart was forever stolen. Grace gently kept reminding George to pursue his dream. He wasn’t happy laying tile. Listening to his wife he began to search for a way to accomplish his goal. By now he had narrowed his focus to mining geology. An opportunity arose. George left his little family in Ohio and made the trek across to the Nevada desert.
He was home. The job he left Ohio for was not there. But determined to not go back to Ohio he found a job in the mining industry. Soon Grace and the kids joined them. Grace began to snap from the weight of a lifetime of changes. She needed a break. George continued to work and we took the kids for a bit. When their little family was reunited again we saw something change. No longer were they going to allow things to keep their family unit apart. A fierce determination set-in. One that would set the scene for the future.
George and Grace moved to the little big city with the kids. They found a small house on a cul-de-sac. The kids began to blossom. George began to change. One day he was convinced that everyone was out to get him. Paranoia set in. I began to worry more about my brother. Grace was there. Never leaving. Always encouraging. She had the strongest love for a man…I had never seen that before. Again that fierce determination shone through.
It was then that my brother decided that if he wanted to get somewhere he needed to get his degree. Yes, he was doing a job that few get without the degree. But he KNEW he needed the degree to cushion him from forces beyond his control. They decided to take the plunge and work toward the degree. This brought changes. Grace needed to get a job. They needed a babysitter. My father needed a place to live. The recipe for disaster was written before our very eyes.
We didn’t know that while my brother pursued his dream and his family made the sacrifices to accomplish that, a storm was building up, threatening to destroy everything in it’s wake.
To be continued…